Professional standards committee terms of reference


The RACGP Governance Organisational policies Professional standards committee terms of reference

1. Title: RACGP professional standards committee terms of reference policy

1.1 Policy number: CO-O-082.0

1.2 Category: Organisational

1.3 Approval date: June 2018

1.4 Revision date: June 2019

1.5 Unit responsible Office of the President and CEO

2. Procedure declaration

This policy establishes the terms of reference for the Professional Standards Committee.

In conjunction with the Constitution, these Terms of Reference detail the Committee’s membership and responsibilities, and provides guidance as to its proceedings.

This policy is approved by Council and authorised by the CEO.

3. Background

As a membership-based organisation, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is committed to ensuring all members demonstrate a high standard of professionalism, including complying with the RACGP Member Code of Conduct, RACGP Conflict of Interest Policy, RACGP Fit and Proper Fellow Policy, RACGP Readmission Policy and other related codes and policies.

Under Part 4 section 27 of the Constitution, Council is empowered to terminate membership of any member if they do not comply with the Constitution or breach RACGP codes or policies.

Under Part 4 sections 30 (c) and (d) of the Constitution, RACGP membership is terminated if a member’s name is removed from the register or any medical or professional authority recognised by Council, or if the member is suspended from practice by such authorities.

Under Part 4 section 31 of the Constitution, Council is empowered to readmit to membership those members whose memberships are terminated because they are suspended from practice.

4. Objectives

The Committee is established for the following purposes:

  1. To make recommendations to Council regarding matters of professional conduct which are prejudicial to the RACGP’s interests, as referred to them by the Chief Executive Officer or Council;
  2. To initiate and provide ongoing strategic overview for members professional standards matters; and
  3. To develop, oversee and implement policies and procedures regarding professional standards of members conduct.

The Committee will not advise on any matters relating to:

  1. any educational misconduct (which will be dealt with via the Education Misconduct Policy);
  2. any obligations incurred by members acting within their profession;
  3. any matters not connected to the RACGP; or
  4. any matters that are covered by any legal matters, including occupational health and safety matters,

unless there is a significant reflected impact on the RACGP’s integrity or reputation.

5. Professional Standards Committee Terms of Reference

Where it receives a referral, the Committee will:

  1. review the conduct referred to it under the RACGP Member Code of Conduct, RACGP Conflict of Interest Policy, RACGP Fit and Proper Fellow Policy and/or RACGP Readmission Policy (as appropriate);
  2. where necessary, contribute members to act as mediators in some member disputes.

In addition, the Committee will meet to:

  1. initiate and provide ongoing strategic support for Council’s considerations of professional standards;
  2. advocate for and provide commentary on professional standards issues;
  3. monitor incidences within the RACGP membership on an ongoing basis;
  4. develop and maintain procedures governing responses to breaches of conduct by members;
  5. promote high standard of professionalism among RACGP members;
  6. promote codes or policies relating to members professional standards;
  7. recommend initiatives to reduce or better manage member matters; and J. review its own performance annually and report such findings to Council.

6. Powers

Subject to this clause 6, Council delegates to the Committee all authority necessary to satisfy all those responsibilities and duties stipulated in these Terms of Reference. 

The Committee is a Council advisory body. It does not have authority to make decisions and is ultimate responsibility for membership termination or re-admission remains vested in Council.

The Committee must:

  1. work at all times within the Council’s strategic and policy directions;
  2. be equally accountable and responsible for acting according to the principles associated with being a Committee member;
  3. act at all times in good faith in the RACGP’s interests promote a favourable image of the RACGP.

7. Membership

7.1 Composition

The Committee consists of:

  1. one co-opted Councillor;
  2. three Fellows of good standing, who do not concurrently hold any position of profit or office within the RACGP;
  3. an external advisor with experience in human resources, ethics and/or conduct; and
  4. an external advisor with legal skills and experience.

7.2 Appointment and tenure

All members are appointed by Council. Council will appoint the Chair from among the Committee’s members.

The term of the co-opted Councillor commences on appointment until the expiry of their office, or their removal by Council. The terms of all other Committee members commences upon their appointment and continue for two years. All Committee members are eligible to be reappointed. There is no limit to the number of membership terms.

Council may fill casual vacancies by appointment. A replacement Committee member’s term must not exceed the balance of the replaced member’s term (but for the vacancy).

To ensure experience and knowledge retention, approximately half of the Committee must retire each year. Accordingly, initial Committee members must be appointed on terms of one or two years, with all subsequent terms being two years. Council may remove any Committee member at any time.

8. Proceedings

The Committee must meet quarterly or as otherwise needed. 

The Committee may participate in a meeting by means of any technology that gives the members a reasonable opportunity to participate. The Chair may permit other attendees as they see fit.

The Committee reports to Council, and must circulate its minutes and recommendations to Council as soon as practicable after each meeting.

A quorum is four members, including the Chair.

Each member has one vote. Recommendations are determined on a majority of votes of those present and entitled to vote. There is no deadlock mechanism; in the event of a tied vote, both recommendations must be presented to Council.

9. Fundamental principles

9.1 Confidentiality

Committee members will receive or have access to confidential, sensitive and personal information. They acknowledge they must only use or disclose such information to the extent necessary to satisfy their duties and responsibilities as a Committee member. 

If there is uncertainty as to whether any information is confidential, such information should be deemed confidential and not within the public domain. If there is any uncertainty about whether any information constitutes personal information, such information should be deemed personal information and advice should be sought where appropriate.

Committee members must safeguard the confidentiality of all information received by adopting and maintaining reasonable precautions.

Committee members must not make any press or other announcements or releases in connection with any deliberations, outcomes or decisions of the Committee.

Upon cessation of their Committee membership, or at the RACGP’s request, Committee members must promptly return to the RACGP (or if so requested destroy) any material in their possession obtained in connection with the Committee or any related matters, deleting such material stored electronically in such a permanent way or a way that prevents any manner of retrieval or restoration of that material. If required by the RACGP, Committee members may be required to certify their above obligations have been certified. 

9.2 Conflicts of Interest

Committee members must not place themselves in a position of conflict of interest whereby their obligations to satisfy their duties and responsibilities are compromised, potentially compromises or perceived to be compromise.

No individual may use their position, their authority or any information received to obtain an advantage for themselves or detriment for others.

Committee members must comply with the RACGP Conflict of Interest Policy.

Committee members warrant they have no undeclared actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest, and undertake to promptly notify any future conflicts of interest to the Chair as soon as they become apparent.

9.3 Professional competence and due care

Committee members must maintain relevant professional knowledge and skills at the level required to perform their duties and responsibilities. They must act diligently, carefully, thoroughly, on a timely basis and in accordance with any applicable technical and professional standards. 

9.4 Integrity

Committee members must be straightforward and honest in all relationships with the RACGP, its staff and members, and other Committee’s members. This implies fair dealing and truthfulness. 

Committee members must promptly notify the Chair and the RACGP, as appropriate, if they believe information, decisions or resolutions submitted by the Committee:

  1. contain a materially false or misleading statement;
  2. contain statements or information furnished recklessly; or
  3. omit or obscure information required to be included where such omission or obscurity would be misleading.

9.5 Objectivity

Committee members must not compromise their professional judgment because of bias, conflict of interest or the undue influence of others. In such circumstances, they must not continue performing their duties and promptly notify the Chair and the RACGP as appropriate.

9.6 Professional behaviour

Committee members must not take any actions that may discredit the RACGP. 

This includes actions that a reasonable and informed member, weighting all the specific facts and circumstances available to them at that time, would be likely to conclude adversely affects the RACGP’s good reputation.

10. Related policies, documents and legislation

10.1 Policies

RACGP Member Code of Conduct

RACGP Conflict of Interest Policy

RACGP Fit and Proper Fellow Policy

RACGP Readmission Policy

10.2 Documents

Nil

10.3 Legislation

Nil

11. Administrative procedures

11.1 Access to published Policy

This Policy will be available via the RACGP intranet.

11.2 Promulgation of published Policy

These Terms of Reference will be announced publically and made available via the RACGP website and intranet.

11.3 Review of this Policy

This Policy will have an annual review cycle.